Barrio Chino – Lima’s Chinatown

IMG_1557Folks told me that Lima’s Chinatown was not that exciting. I’m glad that people played it down. When I saw it for myself, I was pleasantly surprised.

IMG_1546.JPGChinatown consists of a small pedestrian street with requisite arch and aura cleaners… and many shops and mini-malls in the surrounding streets. Chinatown is actually very close to Lima’s central square, the Plaza de Armas.

IMG_1543I was pleased to see that the Chinese stores also sold Thai curry paste and other rare items here in Peru.

IMG_1538In almost every shop, there were items that I did not recognize. That’s part of the fun of exploring.

IMG_1572Considering that the Chinese (mostly from Canton) got to Peru a bit after they got to California in the 1800s, in many ways, lots of Peruvian food is Chinese food. For example, the Peruvians love fried rice, “chaufa,” and eating Chinese food from a “chifa” is a normal part of life.

IMG_1574As I was checking out at one store, I noticed that a last minute “temptation” like chewing gum or candy, were snack packs of chicken feet (three, which I thought an odd number).

IMG_1551When I went a restaurant to get some fried rice and wanted to make sure that their recipe did not involve soy sauce, the owners of the restaurant TOLD me that I’d have it with soup (what is a meal without soup?) and they tried to teach me how to order “chaufa” without soy sauce. In Chinese.

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Dim Sum in Caracas

14642356_10154595409009618_7761823639592039314_nYup, that’s a thing here. The dim sum places serve “brunch” and it’s best to go fairly early in the morning — like at 7 a.m. or no later than 9.

14670721_10154595407759618_8734189639895963433_nThe dim sum restaurants in Caracas have their own ordering system. There are no carts pushed by waiters here. Here you have to go up to a buffet and pick your items. The waiter will still notate it on a chit which you take to the cashier to pay. In addition to the usual items in a dim sum selection, they have a few local varieties of food. The pork is crispy and less red than in other places.

14670790_10154595406654618_7352959441999699665_nNext to the dim sum restaurants (I think there are two or three main ones), there is a Chinese market which only happens on Sundays. This is another reason to go eat dim sum on Sunday morning. The market has everything you could need to make Chinese food, from seafood, bean sprouts, instant noodles, to fresh tofu. The dim sum restaurants are in an area called “country club” near the river.

14642271_10154595327849618_5591894706066765038_nOh, and another thing, there were a lot of chicken feet.

The World Market in Bogota at Codabas

The world's spices at the spice shop in the fruit and vegetable market.
The world’s spices at the spice shop in the fruit and vegetable market.

Where to find the world’s products in Bogota? Recently, I went to Codabas, a market in the northern part of Bogota. It’s up on Carrera 7 # 180. Codabas has a central building with fruit stalls surrounded by a parking lot of shops.

Inside the central building is a spice shop with every spice you didn’t know that you couldn’t find in Bogota. Cardamom. Chili mix. Fresh honey. Salt from the moon. Okay, I jest.

Clean fruit and veg.
Clean fruit and veg.

Some of the shops around the parking area include an Italian shop (they sell wine for less than 15,000 COP = $8 which is fairly cheap for Bogota) and other Italian items.

Frozen shumai dumplings.
Frozen shumai dumplings.

I was thrilled by the “Arabic” sandwich shop where I bought pita bread. (All of it. I also bought hummus. But, mostly, I was excited to find flat bread like I’ve found in the middle east.)

Hummus, babaganoush, labnah, and pita bread.
Baba ganoush, hummus, labnah, and pita bread.

Across from there is a Peruvian store but it was a bit pricey.

Arabic cafe.
Arabic cafe.

There were several fish shops which sold lots of frozen Asian seafood, like clams from Vietnam, and Asian foods (like frozen shumai dumplings). Plus, they sold a good brand (from Canada) of pickled herring. And squid ink. Just in case you were making squid ink pasta.

Pickled herring and squid ink.
Pickled herring and squid ink.

I will go back to explore some more but personally for vegetables (and especially for chiles and napa cabbage) I like the less sterile feel of Paloquemao a little bit better. IMG_8137Also, the Carulla on Calle 84 actually caters to the expats and carries many imported products.